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Proposed St. Cloud Islamic Center arouses racial tensions

By Luke Tripp

Guest Commentator

 

The City of St. Cloud is unfriendly to people of color. It is located in Minnesota’s sixth congressional district, which is represented by Michele Bachman, one of the prominent leaders of the Tea Party movement. As an elected politician, her views (which are extremely hostile to the interests of people of color) largely reflect those of a large segment of her constituents in St. Cloud. Continue Reading →

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National, local controversy greets opening of new state health exchange

Critics say Paul Bunyan and Babe the Blue Ox ad campaign misfires with communities of color
 
By Charles Hallman

Staff Writer

 

MNsure, the state’s health insurance exchange program, debuted the signup process on October 1. Officials during an October 4 conference call with reporters, including the MSR, estimated that 5,000 accounts were opened during the first week. “We think it’s been going very well,” remarked MNsure Executive Director April Todd-Malmlov. She added that many people did “anonymous shopping” but did not disclose specific numbers. “Minnesota is unique,” said Todd-Malmlov. Continue Reading →

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Trained doulas can improve childbirth outcomes — Emotional support ‘inseparable’ from cultural support

 

 
 
 

By Michelle Lawrence

Contributing Writer

 

Recent research from the University of Minnesota shows what women like Akhmiri Sekhr-Ra have known for decades: Cultural support during pregnancy has a positive impact on birth outcomes among women of African American heritage. A birth outcome is defined as the result of a pregnancy and depends on several factors such as whether the infant is born early, survives childbirth, and is born weighing at least 5.7 pounds. “When we compared birth outcomes among culturally diverse Medicaid recipients who received prenatal education and childbirth support from trained doulas with those from a national population of similar women, we estimated a 40 percent reduction in cesarean rates,” said Katy Backes Kozhimannil, lead researcher on the U of MN study. “When you look at the potential cost savings associated with a rate reduction of this magnitude, Medicaid reimbursement for birth doulas could be a case where adding coverage on the front end could ultimately result in real dollars saved.”

Currently, taxpayers fund nearly half of all U.S. births through state Medicaid programs, which generally do not cover doula care. A cesarean birth costs almost 50 percent more than a vaginal birth, with average Medicaid payments of $9,131 for a vaginal birth and $13,590 for a cesarean delivery. Continue Reading →

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Twin Cities Black Film Festival founder on 10 years of stars and screenings

By Charles Hallman

Staff Writer

 

Ten years ago, Natalie Morrow wanted to establish an annual Black film screening event on the comparable level as similar events held in Atlanta and Los Angeles. Since then, the Twin Cities Black Film Festival (TCBFF) has been held each September in such places as Augsburg College (twice), at downtown hotels and once at now-vacant Block E. Stars such as Nate Parker, cinema icons such as Pam Grier and countless screenwriters, directors and documentary producers have been special guests over the years as well. Among this year’s 14-film festival September 27-30 at St. Anthony Main Theatre included a tribute to the late Whitney Houston (The Bodyguard), two unheralded 1970s classics (The Spook Who Sat by the Door and Black Brigade), a documentary on the final season of sports at Minneapolis Community and Technical College and a comedy filmed in the Twin Cities. “I’m happy that I am still on the right track in selecting the right films,” says Morrow in an interview with the MSR.

High Card Trumps, a six-minute film, was among several shorts shown at this year’s TCBFF. Continue Reading →

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State’s Black teens show health gains, including reduced pregnancies

However, wellness gap remains between White youth and youth of color
Collectively, Minnesota’s teens are doing better today on key health measures than they were in the 1990s, according to a recent analysis by the Minnesota Department of Health (MDH). Since the 1990s, students 12 to 19 years old from all racial and ethnic groups have experienced substantial declines in rates of smoking cigarettes, binge drinking, sexual activity, hitting or beating up another person, carrying a weapon on school property, drinking pop or soda, and riding in a car without a seat belt, according to The Health and Well-Being of Minnesota’s Adolescents of Color and American Indians: A Data Book (PDF: 3.62MB/86 pages) from the MDH. One exception is the level of emotional distress, which has remained basically the same since the mid-1990s. This marks the first time the MDH has systematically compared the health of teens from different ethnic and racial backgrounds — White, Latino, African American, Asian, and American Indian — and found a persistent wellness gap between Minnesota’s White adolescents and its adolescents of color and American Indians. “This teen fact book shows that efforts in some targeted areas have been working to protect adolescents of color and American Indians, but it also shows that much more needs to be done,” said Ed Ehlinger, Minnesota commissioner of health. Continue Reading →

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Green Central enters new school year amid controversy

 

 

News Analysis

By Mel Reeves

Contributing Writer

 

“The Developmental Dual Language [DDL] program at Green [Central School] is a new approach, and starting new things — moving out of a comfort zone — is always a little threatening. But it’s the right thing to do for our Spanish-speaking students,” says Green Central Principal Catalina Salas. Salas was not available to be interviewed for this story but provided the MSR with a written statement explaining the reasons for curriculum changes. Salas has come under fire from some parents and community members who are nervous about the program and fear that, while it may be the right thing to do for Spanish-speaking students, it may leave African American students behind. Some even fear that this will result in segregation of those students in the same school. Continue Reading →

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Phillips scholars create summer programs for youth, families

 

Jazmine Darden designed a summer program to encourage urban students, including many students of color, to learn more about opportunities in the STEM fields, specifically engineering. Through “Bridgin’ the Gap,” students in kindergarten through eighth grade discovered new information about structural engineering through bridge-building activities. Darden, who is from Brooklyn Park and attends Augsburg College, is one of six Minnesota Private College students chosen to complete a community outreach project as a part of the Phillips Scholars Program. The Phillips Scholars Program is a competitive scholarship initiative that asks college students to propose and then implement a service project to meet an unmet community need. The funds available to selected students total $16,500 in the form of scholarships and stipends from the Jay and Rose Phillips Foundation. Continue Reading →

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